Maharashtra sugar mills to seek a sweetener from Prime Minister Modi

Mumbai: An all-party delegation from Maharashtra will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi after Tuesday, seeking the Centre’s intervention to help the ailing cooperative sugar mills pass through the current crisis. The delegation also wants the ban on onion export to be lifted. Union minister of state for consumer affairs and BJP leader Raosaheb Danve on Friday met NCP chief and former union minister Sharad Pawar to discuss these issues and the way forward.

The Centre’s intervention is inevitable as the sugar sector is passing through a turmoil. The past loans have now become outstanding and they will have to be rescheduled and restructured without which they cannot mobilise necessary funds to participate in the ensuing sugar-crushing season.

The industry wants the Minimum Selling Price to match with the new Fair Remunerative Price of Rs 2,850 per ton. They also want the Centre to provide a one-time grant of Rs 500 per ton which will be the average of sugarcane crushing done in the last two years.

The National Cooperative Sugar Federation MD Prakash Naiknavare, who was present at the meeting between Pawar and Danve, said, ‘’If the Government of India agrees to the industry’s demands, the entire sugar sector will come out from the present turmoil.’’ As far as issues faced by the cooperative sugar industry is in Maharashtra is concerned, the state will have a bumper sugarcane crop of 900 lakh tonnes during 2020-21 crushing season against 752 lakh tonnes in 2019-20. However, to complete the crushing of the entire cane the cooperative sugar mills have to start crushing from October 15 and wind up only after the entire cane is crushed.

However, the 37 cooperative mills cannot start crushing as they have been denied any pre-seasonal loan for want of unconditional state government guarantee for both the principal and interest. The industry expects the state government will have to take a proactive stand. In its absence the standing cane crop will have to be given compensation running into a few thousand crore rupees.

State NCP President Jayant Patil will soon meet the Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and make a strong case for the state government’s intervention to help the crisis ridden cooperative sugar sector in the state.

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